EAST LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — Have you heard of the term mansplaining?
It’s a combination of the words “man” and “explaining,” denoting when a man gives a condescending explanation of something to someone who already understands it.
Michigan State University graduate research fellow Caitlin Briggs worked with colleagues to learn more about the implications associated with mansplaining.
In an experiment, Briggs and colleagues with the Michigan State University College of Social Science asked 128 volunteers to imagine that they had been appointed to a committee in charge of determining employees that deserved bonus funds.
Volunteers had to review descriptions of shortlisted employee candidates, then volunteers went into a meeting with one of two actors, one was a man and one was a woman.
In every scenario, the man or woman actor questioned the volunteer who understood the task and then the volunteer would mansplain it to the actor.
Briggs’ research was published in the Journal of Business and Psychology, and her team discovered that the majority of women had negative outcomes as a result of being mansplained to.
Men were not affected as much if they were given a condescending explanation by a woman.
“They [women volunteers] tended to register that their competence was being questioned more than men did, and to attribute this to a gender bias — so, maybe this person doesn’t think highly of me or doesn’t like me because of my gender,” said Briggs.
Video footage from the experiment showed that after being spoken to condescendingly by a man, women spoke less. Men, on the other hand, did not.
“Maybe they perceived it as ‘this person is being rude to me’, but they didn’t perceive it any differently if it came from a man or woman, and they didn’t attribute it to a gender bias,” Briggs continued.
Though the experiment was done in a lab, Briggs did say that these sorts of behaviors can affect women in their careers over time.
But how can society prevent mansplaining?
Briggs offered the following solutions:
- Bring greater awareness to the problems related to mansplaining.
- Incorporate information about mansplaining into workplace training.
- Monitor recordings of virtual meetings to see how often people are interrupted or ignored when they try to speak up.